Palestinian activists have blasted Madonna's defence of her Eurovision Song Contest performance.

The pop superstar is billed to sing two songs at Saturday's (18May19) big event in Israel, despite pleas from campaigners to boycott the contest and protest the long-running conflict between the host nation and neighbours in Palestine.

On Tuesday morning, Madonna defended her decision to perform, stating she will "never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda", and now officials representing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) have urged the Material Girl to consider "true solidarity means heeding the call of the oppressed"

A spokesman for the group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals writes: "Artwashing Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestinians for a million dollars must be among the most immoral political agendas. We urge you and all participants to withdraw from Eurovision.

"Israel’s decades-old regime of apartheid, apartheid and settler-colonialism explicitly uses international artists and events to cover up its human rights abuses. At a time when fewer and fewer major artists are performing in apartheid Tel Aviv, Eurovision is exactly what Israel’s far-right government needs to distract from its crimes."

But Madonna is standing firm, insisting she wants her performance to create “a new path toward peace".

"My heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict. I hope and pray that we will soon break free from this terrible cycle of destruction and create a new path towards peace."

Israel is hosting the contest after Netta Barzilai won the 2018 event in Lisbon, Portugal, with her song Toy. Over 40 countries will compete for the win this year at the Expo Tel Aviv.